The Kentucky Association for Gifted Education, a nonprofit volunteer group of parents, teachers, administrators and citizens interested in promoting appropriate educational opportunities for gifted and talented youth in Kentucky, honored several individuals at their 34th annual conference Feb. 24-25 in Lexington, Ky.
Sylvia Crawford, a gifted resource educator with the Department of Defense Education Activity schools at Fort Campbell, received the prestigious Michael Caudill Educator Award, acknowledging her contributions to gifted education and her advocacy for children who are gifted and talented on post.
“It was shocking, but I was really happy,” said Crawford.
Crawford – who also has experience as a special education teacher – became drawn to the advocacy of gifted students because of a general lack of accommodation for their unique needs.
“Often they are put as helpers in the classroom or they’re tutoring someone,” she explained, “but they’re not getting the education they deserve and need as well.”
Crawford has been instrumental in providing opportunities for students at Barsanti Elementary School.
She has arranged numerous learning experiences away from school as well as experiences where she brings in local experts.
She has led students in a schoolwide recycling program and holds an annual Star Lab.
“I get a great deal of pleasure from working with these kids and doing these kinds of things with them,” said Crawford.
“They teach me a lot, and I get to do the things I love.”
Knowing the importance of schools partnering with parents, she has established monthly parent support groups where parents gain valuable information and “Brainy Game Night,” which brings Families together to play games. She has also provided professional development for her colleagues about meeting the needs of gifted and talented children.
“Bright children can get bullied or may feel ostracized,” Crawford said.
“My job as an advocate for these children is to make sure that teachers really see what kind of educational and emotional needs they have.”
Crawford was nominated for the award by Donna Gatto, a parent of a gifted child.
“Students are eager for the challenges that await them in the gifted education program classroom,” said Gatto, “to include the projects and opportunities for interactive learning, visitors presenting fascinating topics as well as the study trips outside of the school which support classroom subject matter.”
“We are always delighted to recognize excellent service and advocacy efforts on behalf of our gifted children,” said Lynette Baldwin, executive director of KAGE. “We congratulate Sylvia on a job well done.”
“There normally isn’t a whole lot of contact between the military and the public school systems,” said Crawford. “Therefore I am very blessed to have this position, and I am honored by the fact that I won this award.”
Editor’s Note: Heather Clark, Fort Campbell Courier, contributed to this report.